Various calculation methods to determine standard working hours
Although Estonian laws do not provide clear instructions on how to calculate the number of standard working hours of employees, clear guidelines have been developed over time by human resource teams. Therefore, every HR employee knows the simple and logical formula that if an employee is unexpectedly absent on the working days allocated to them in the work time schedule, the working hours determined in the schedule for the period of the employee’s sick leave or holiday are deducted from their standard working hours. However, the situation is much more confusing in cases where a planned absence that is already known is marked in the work time schedule. Various approaches may be encountered in the search for a suitable calculation method in the case of such absence. Based on the instructions available online today, it mostly appears that, in the case of planned absences, the working hours of calendar working days (i.e. from Monday to Friday) falling within the period of sick leave or holiday must be deducted from the employee’s standard working hours in the corresponding month. For example, if an employee works full-time and is absent on two calendar working days, such as Thursday and Friday, then two working days x eight hours = 16 working hours must be deducted from the standard working hours. This means that there is no reduction in standard working hours if the absence is planned on a weekend. At the same time, different approaches can be found in court decisions and in practice. For instance, in one dispute, the court found that, when granting leave calculated in calendar days, it is only possible to deduct working hours from the standard working hours in a month to the extent they correspond to the average number of working hours on all calendar days in that month multiplied by the number of days of leave taken. So, for example, if an employee takes seven days off in January 2022, the standard hours are reduced by 168/31*7=37.9 hours. Although the Civil Service Act was applied in the judgment referred to, this difference does not appear to be sufficient to justify a different method of calculation.
Financial impact of implementing various calculation methods
Although, in practice, there is no clear understanding today of which of the above calculation methods is the right one and why, the choice of calculation methods can hide important financial implications. The financial impact of the choice of method for calculating the number of standard working hours is most noticeable for employers with a large number of employees working on the basis of a schedule.
In order to compare the financial impact of implementing various calculation methods, KPMG has developed an algorithm to analyse the standard working hours on the basis of which remuneration is paid. The algorithm is a practical tool that can work with data sets that concern a company’s employees and work schedules. The impact of various calculation methods is the most explicit when the alternatives reflect the work schedules of the whole company over a longer period of time, and it is good if all shift workers are included. The financial year is the ideal measurement period. It allows you to implement alternatives along with their financial implications.
The following is required:
Andmete kogumise järel jooksutatakse need alternatiivseid lähenemisi arvesse võttes läbi reeglitel põhineva algoritmi (rule based algoritm) ja genereeritakse tulemid, mis kajastavad alternatiivsete arvutumeetodite kasutamise mõjusid finantsaastale.
Results and risks
Based on the above, our aim is to offer organisations that work on the basis of schedules the opportunity to compare the financial impact of alternative calculation methods and to consider adjustments to current solutions, where necessary (data driven decision).
The approach described is not yet model-based optimisation, but is the next best step to Excel spreadsheets, which usually do not lead to the achievement of optimisation goals. To achieve primary efficiency, the algorithmic optimisation described above would be the most convenient first step that can provide answers with respect to the pros and cons of various calculation methods.
Although there are still different approaches and contradictory guidelines in the practice of calculating employees’ standard working hours, the Employment Contracts Act also contains a number of other regulations on summarised working time from which the employer may not deviate. For this reason, we recommend that you make sure to consult a human resources specialist or an expert in emloyment law before establishing, reviewing or changing rules concerning working time calculation
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